Degree: Doctoral Thesis

Authors: Dennis Lawrence Stuebing

Supervisors: Doctor Emilie Tran, Hong Kong Baptist University

Children are disproportionately affected by emergencies.  First, as a result of the precipitating event(s) such as armed conflict, natural hazards and/or climate change, and second, as a result of the action or inaction by adults in response to those events.  Children’s victimization is further exacerbated through targeted acts of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation during emergencies.  Notwithstanding, children have a right under international law to protection and a growing body of literature has recognized children as agents in their own protection during, and in preparation for emergencies.  Fiji and Tonga are used as two explanatory case studies within the current research to answer the question “how is child protection addressed during emergencies and disaster risk reduction?”  Both case studies are small island developing states from two different Pacific sub-regions, with different historical and developmental conditions, within a broader region beset by multiple and sometimes concurrent hazards.  The findings of the research show that children do participate in their own protection during and in preparation for emergencies in Fiji and Tonga.  However, children’s participation occurs within the enabling protective environment created by adults, rather than initiated by children.  In relation to the literature reviewed, the findings can be understood as a fulfillment of children’s rights, and/or, as a means of controlling the ways children participate in the protective environment during emergencies.  The findings also demonstrate the literature that recognizes children’s marginal position in society through the constraining actions of adults.